Gore: Israel should play leading role in renewable energy

Former vice president calls on the Jewish people's "sense of justice" to help overcome the global warming crisis.

al gore 88 (photo credit: )
al gore 88
(photo credit: )
"I have one answer: Yes. The question is: Is renewable energy good for the Jews?" Nobel and Dan David Prize laureate Al Gore began his speech Tuesday night. "It is also, by the way, good for the Arabs, Americans, Europeans, Hindus, Christians," he added. The former US vice president was the keynote speaker at the opening of Tel Aviv University's international conference on renewable energy, which will continue through Wednesday. "We have blessings available to us in the form of renewable energy. The sun, wind, the geothermal energy of the earth itself. In times past, it has sometimes seemed to be an improbable source of practical energy. So much work has been done, it is now a practical source of energy," he said. "We must choose the hard right over the easy wrong. The easy wrong is to continue as we have. It seems somewhat harder to take this new path, but we can. It has been sometimes hard to see the right path because CO2 is invisible, tasteless. It does not come with a price tag, so it is invisible to our economy and our markets, those making our economic choices," he explained. "We will dump another 70 million tons today, May 20, into our atmosphere, as if it is an open sewer," he stated angrily. Gore drew a parallel between the earth's current state and diagnosing a child's fever. "The planet has a fever. If your child has a fever," he began, only to be interrupted by the cry of a child. "The special effects in this auditorium are better than any," he said with a smile. "Our scientists have given us the diagnosis: We're burning too many carbon-based fuels. We got a first diagnosis, a second and a third. Last January, we got a fifth opinion. Three thousand scientists from 130 countries have been studying this for 20 years," he said. "Scientists were asked how certain they were of their findings, and said they were 99-percent certain," he noted. "We are now in danger of waiting too long. The time for choice is here," he declared. We could have as little as 10 years to begin making changes before we lose the chance to retrieve the favorable climate conditions that sustain life, Gore quoted a past Dan David laureate, Dr. James Hansen, as reporting. "We will find we have the wind at our back, literally," he continued. "We can switch in a massive shift from a fuel source that is dirty, comes from a dangerous part of the world and is expensive, and instead choose an energy source that is free forever." Gore addressed Israel's potential role in the change, echoing earlier remarks by President Shimon Peres. "Why should not Israel play the leading role in this historic shift to renewable energy? Israel can, and Israel should," Gore demanded. "The people of Israel stand in my moral imagination as guardians of the proposition that we as human beings are answerable to moral duties, that there are ethical laws that should guide our decisions and choices. At this moment in history when, for the first time, all of the people of this earth have to make a clear, seemingly difficult but really quite simple moral judgment about our future, the people of Israel can lead the way to a renewable future," he concluded. Of Peres, Gore said, "We have been friends for many years and I am one of your biggest fans and supporters." Peres acknowledged Gore's pioneering role and charted a possible course for Israel. "We cannot become another Al Gore as, really, a teacher of our time. But Israel can be a pioneering force in the domain of green. I believe we will be the first to use the electric car," Peres said. "It is better to rely on the sun than oil-producing countries," he added. "The sun is more permanent, more objective; it's not a member of the Arab league, and we have direct access to it - we don't need permission." Oil finances terror, Peres noted. With all that extra income, they can spread it around irresponsibly, he said. "Whoever wants to fight terror must start with a major source of financing, which is oil," Peres declared. Addressing Gore, he concluded, "You are not only our guest, but we are your partner." Earlier in the day, Gore said the Middle East's water shortage was a major part of the global climate crisis, AP reported. Gore praised Israel for irrigating its desert landscape, but he warned against decreasing water levels in the region's lakes and rivers and called for action. "In this region of the world, the water crisis is one of the most important manifestations of the global climate change crisis," said Gore, whose documentary film An Inconvenient Truth won an Academy Award and who is widely recognized as setting the bar for global warming awareness in the world. He called on the Jewish people's "sense of justice" to help overcome the global warming crisis. "Humankind must now find a way to reach a higher level of consciousness that allows us to see our planet whole," Gore said. Water levels in the country's major bodies of water are dropping quickly. The level of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, has receded about 1 meter each year for the past 25 years, and the Jordan River is only a few feet deep in some places.